Friday, October 29, 2004

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: IT CAME FROM THE SWAMP

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
Oct. 29, 2004


Lafayette Marquis, C.C. Adcock’s second album (and his first one in 10 years!) is a rollicking and refreshing work that brings swamp rock into the 21st Century.


And the young Louisianan Adcock knows that swamp rock is a sound that’s not only worth preserving, but worth building upon.

It’s snaked its way through the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Though there’s no real definitions of this elusive sub-genre, you know it when you hear it in the funky tone of the guitar, the loose rhythmic grooves, the laid-back drawl of the singer.

Where it started, nobody knows. You could argue it has roots in Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya.” You have to assume a connection with zydeco and Cajun music of rural Louisiana.

You heard it in rockabilly journeymen like Jody Reynolds and his death meditation “Endless Sleep,” and Dale Hawkins’ “Suzy Q.” Bo Diddley -- and his hillbilly disciple Ronnie Hawkins -- conjured the swamp in “Who Do You Love,” while Louisiana bluesman Slim Harpo’s “Baby, Scratch My Back” practically defined the sound.

Swamp rock took a hard-rock turn with Creedence Clearwater Revival in longs like “Green River” and “Born on the Bayou.” J.J. Cale brought a little Oklahoma to the swamp. It got all souled up on “Polk Salad Annie” by Tony Joe White. And it seemed natural in the early ‘70s country charts with Jerry Reed hits like “Amos Moses.”

But some might say that since those days when the gator got Annie’s granny, the swamp has been drained. The sound now seems to live on in various revival bands, novelty acts like Southern Culture on the Skids and the occasional new release from an old master like Fogerty or Tony Joe.

While Adcock has a solid roots resume -- he’s played guitar in bands backing Bo Diddley and Buckwheat Zydeco -- Lafayette Marquis is no a work of nostalgia.

True, one song here, “Runaway Life,” where Adcock is backed only by a fiddle and acoustic guitar, is pure Cajun country.

But the rest of the album has a hard-edged sound in which the guitars not only lay out bayou grooves, they sometimes grate and thunder. The drums, played mostly by Adcock’s touring band member Chris Hunter are more frantic and ferocious than your father’s swamp rock.

Then there’s strange musical colorations on some tunes -- Dr. Dre sideman Mike Elizando on “bass and beats and mood sympathizer ,“ sax maniac Dickie Landry, who blows a maelstrom on a tune called “I Love You,” and the fluttering accordion of at Breaux just audible beneath the crunching metal guitars on “Loaded Gun.”

Other highlights here include then psychedelic “Peter Gunn” style workout called “Stealin’ All Day” (supposedly the last studio production by the late Jack Nitzsche); the Santana-goes-swamp joy of “Blacksnake Bite”; and the dark “Slingshotz n’ Boom-R-Angz,” which sounds like it’s sampled Creedence’s version of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”

I’m not exactly sure why it took 10 years for Adcock to follow-up his self-titled 1994 debut. (Consumer tip -- you can find used copies of this CD for less than a dollar on Amazon.com) Usual music industry nightmares I suppose. Now that he’s on a respected indie label, Yep Roc, I hope Adcock doesn’t fade away for another decade.


Also Recommended:

Déjà Vu All Over Again by John Fogerty.
It must be that time of decade, there’s a new Fogerty album.

Since the early 70s breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty has averaged two solo albums every 10 years. (And in the ‘90s, his second offering was a live “greatest hits” CD).

But it’s always good to hear from Fogerty and his first album of the new millennium is full of delights. (Plus, he’s released two albums since C.C. Adcock’s last one, so we shouldn’t complain.)

Recorded with a basic stripped down band (including drummer Kenny Aronoff on most tunes), Fogerty shows his mastery of his various styles.

“In the Garden” and “She’s Got Baggage” are raw and almost metallic. (“Baggage” has a “Hey-ho” chant in the middle that sounds almost like a tribute to The Ramones.

“Radar” features a Mysterion-style organ (played by Fogerty himself) that’ll make you cry 96 tears

“I Will Walk With You” (featuring Jerry Douglas on dobro) and “Rhubarb Pie” are sweet country numbers, while “Honey Do” is a gentle rockabilly tune.

Fogerty‘s “Fortunate Son,” “Run Through the Jungle” and “Bad Moon Rising” are some of the most enduring Vietnam-era protest songs. One this album, the title song is inspired by the war in Iraq. It’s not as strong as those others, but the song is a bitter indictment.

“One by one I see the old ghosts rising/Stumbling across the Big Muddy/Where the light goes dim/Day after day another Mama’s crying/She’s lost her precious child/to a war that has no end.”

For the record, Fogerty doesn’t get real swampy until the next to the last song, “Wicked Old Witch,” which starts off with a banjo solo before the electric guitar, bass and drums kick in.

Nearly 40 years later, the old boy’s still got swamp water in his blood.

Get swampy on the radio -- on The Santa Fe Opry, Friday 10 -midnight on KSFR, 90.7 Santa Fe Public Radio. Right after the 11th hour this week, you’ll hear C.C. Adcock, John Fogerty, Tony Joe White, Slim Harpo and others.

Then Sunday, same time, same station, Terrell’s Sound World presents the ghoulishly fun Steve Terrell Spook-tacular for the first hour of the show. Then, after the 11th hour there will be a special pre-election set of political tunes.

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